NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints - Cowboys to get back to winning ways

Week 13 of the NFL season kicks off on Thursday as the Dallas Cowboys travel to the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints. Planet Sport previews the action between two NFC giants.

The Dallas Cowboys (7-4) take on the New Orleans Saints (5-6) on Thursday Night Football. Both sides lost on Thanksgiving and will be hoping to reignite their playoff push.

Both sides are still squarely in the NFC playoff picture. Dallas has a two-game cushion over Washington in the NFC East, while New Orleans is one of four 5-6 teams in a virtual tie for the seventh seed.

The franchises have faced each other eight times in the previous 12 seasons, with the Saints winning five of those matchups.

Last time out the Cowboys lost in overtime, 36-33 against the Las Vegas Raiders whilst the Saints were blown out 31-6 by the Buffalo Bills.

Planet Sport takes an in-depth look at Thursday night's clash.

Best bets for Dallas Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints

Dallas Cowboys over 33.5 3/1

New Orleans Saints under 17.5 6/4

Dallas Cowboys to score a touchdown on 1st Drive 2/1

When: December 3, 2021 - 1.20am (BST)

Where: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans

How to watch: NFL Game Pass/Sky Sports NFL

Background Information: Dallas Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints

After numerous positive tests for COVID-19, the Cowboys will be without head coach Mike McCarthy, offensive line coach Joe Philbin, assistant offensive line coach Jeff Blasko, and right tackle Terence Steele. As a result of this, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will serve as the teams head coach. Quinn has plenty of experience in this position as he was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

The team is also unsure how much star running back Ezekiel Elliott will be able to impact the game. Elliott has been suffering from a bruised knee since Week Four and as a result, his runs per game has decreased. He has been used more in the passing game and in his last five games, he has had at least three receptions for an average of 24.6 yards per game.

The Saints have had running back issues of their own. They have been without their offense's MVP, Alvin Kamara in their past three games, three games that New Orleans has lost.

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding Sean Payton's offense they will be boosted by the return of quarterback Taysom Hill. Since starting quarterback, Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending injury, the Saints were forced to play Trevor Siemian who failed to lead the side to a victory in his four starts.

In 2020, Hill replaced Drew Brees in four games, completing 82 of 114 pass attempts for 834 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. The Saints will be hoping that Hill rejuvenates the offense against a Cowboys side that is 27th in the league with 262.3 passing yards allowed per game, you would expect it to be an all-out pass attack.

Quarterback matchup: Dak Prescott vs Taysom Hill

Dak Prescott and Taysom Hill

Dak Prescott is without a doubt of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and is a prime example no matter where you get drafted, it doesn't define your NFL career.

He was drafted in the fourth round and in the offseason signed a massive four-year $160million contract. He is the current favourite to win Comeback Player of the Year. He is 2/9 with Planet Sport Bet.

Against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving, Prescott threw for 375-yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys lost 36-33 in overtime. Although it was his defense that cost the Cowboys the game as they were routinely penalised which helped Derek Carr and the Raiders offense.

Prescott will be pleased that second-year wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has passed concussion protocols and will be fit to play. It will be loud in New Orleans which means it'll be tricky for Prescott and the offense, but he should be able to do enough to take his team to victory.

Since hall of fame quarterback Drew Brees retired, the Saints have struggled at the quarterback position. Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending injury in Week Eight and Taysom Hill was in concussion protocol.

Hill has returned and will be wanting to prove to fans around the league why the Saints signed him to a unique four-year, hybrid-type of contract extension that could be worth anywhere between $40million and $95 million, depending on the position he plays, and includes $22.5million guaranteed.

Hill is a unique player and has been nicknamed "The Human Swiss Army Knife" by Saints media. He has played in five offensive skill positions, on defense and special teams where he has blocked multiple punts in his career.

He doesn't have the reputation of being a starting quarterback and no one is convinced he could be the starting quarterback of an NFL side due to the plethora of positions he has played during his career.

Whenever Hill steps onto the pitch you never quite know what he is going to do and with very little film for the Cowboys to study of him as a quarterback, he might be able to take New Orleans to victory.

Key men

Tony Pollard - Dallas Cowboys

With Ezekiel Elliot unable to impact the game as a runner, that responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Tony Pollard. The third-year running back has taken the extra responsibility in his stride, rushing for 531-yards and one touchdown.

He is such a dynamic runner and regularly showcases this on punt and kick-off returns. Last week against the Raiders he had a 100-yard kick-off return for a touchdown in their overtime loss.

Micah Parsons - Dallas Cowboys

Dan Quinn has done big things for this Cowboys defense and has had the opportunity to coach some talented players including rookie line backer, Micah Parsons.

Parsons was drafted 11th overall by the Cowboys in a draft where they only drafted players on the defensive side of the ball. Parsons has registered nine sacks and two forced fumbles and can impact the game on every play.

Mark Ingram - New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram is one of the league's most dependable running backs and will be key if the Saints are to get back to winning ways. The Saints have struggled on offense with none of their offensive weapons generating much production. They decided to bring back Ingram who they drafted in the first round back in 2011.

He hasn't got off to the best start yet in his second stint with the team, but he has the talent to break off a big run and ignite a fire for the New Orleans' offense.

Demario Davis - New Orleans Saints

The leader of the Saints defense this season has been the dependable Demario Davis. He is known for being a tough tackler and leads the team with 76 total tackles as well as registering three sacks.

The 32-year-old is going to be key if the Saints are to slow down the Cowboys offense and turn the ball over as much as possible to help New Orleans' playoff push.

Previous matchups

September 29, 2019: Dallas Cowboys 10 New Orleans Saints 12

The last time the two sides met was back in 2019 in a game full of defensive plays. Coming into the matchup against the Saints, the Cowboys had won three start games to start the season and were rolling. However, New Orleans' defense had all the answers and thanks to Vonn Bell's forced fumble and two recoveries and Marcus Williams' game-sealing interception were able to secure a narrow win. 

November 29, 2018: New Orleans 10 Dallas Cowboys 13

The Dallas Cowboys registered their fourth-straight win as they restricted Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense to under 200-yards of total offense. Running back, Ezekiel Elliott scored the only Dallas touchdown on a 16-yard screen pass and the Cowboys ended New Orleans' 10-game unbeaten run. 

October 4, 2015: Dallas Cowboys 20 New Orleans Saints 26

It took overtime for the New Orleans Saints to beat an injury-plagued Dallas Cowboys side. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw his 400th touchdown pass on what turned out to be the final play of the game. The future hall of fame threw a short pass to C.J. Stiller that turned out to be an 80-yard touchdown and helped the Saints register their first win of the season. 

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